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Julius DeGruyter

Historian and illustrator Julius Allan DeGruyter (October 19, 1894-February 12, 1980) was born in Charleston. His grandfather served as the city’s wharf master, and his father was mayor from 1885 to 1889. Before DeGruyter began to document his city’s history, he sold life insurance, was city councilman for four years, and served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1931 to 1933 and from 1945 to 1947. It was his last job, as city clerk, that sparked an interest in pulling facts together into a readable volume. DeGruyter’s first work, The Kanawha Spectator: History of the Kanawha Valley (1953) was followed, in time for the 1963 state Centennial celebration, by A Brief History of Kanawha County and the Kanawha Region.

A self-taught painter and illustrator, DeGruyter’s art appeared in numerous exhibits, and is represented in the collections of the former Sunrise Museum and the State Museum. The artwork includes scenes of early Charleston. DeGruyter wrote of local city government in Charleston, West Virginia: Its Charters and Municipal Affairs (1950) and brought out a second volume of The Kanawha Spectator in 1976. In a change of subject, he drew on the pioneer era as background for a fictional love story, Drum Beats on the Sandusky (1969). Julius DeGruyter died in Huntington.

Written by Carolanne Griffith Roberts